With great sorrow I had to leave Lake Louise and start heading north towards Jasper on the Icefields Parkway. You probably ask yourself what's the difference between an icefield and a glacier right ? I knew it ! 🙂 . So actually they are pretty much the same meaning but differ in size, an icefield has to be a "block of ice" smaller than 50,000 square km while a glacier is less than half of that. As the trip went on I kept hearing more ice related terms.
I did a small fraction of the way the previous day (up to Peyto lake) but today I was focused on the way itself, that was my "goal of the day". My first stop was at Bow lake where I wanted to take a hike to Bow glacier falls. I left the car an although the temperature was higher, it felt much colder, because it was a bit windy. If until now I was only wearing the rain jacket, now I had to put on all my "gear" – hat, gloves & fleece. I started walking along the lake shore until I reached a more "foresty" area which was also very muddy. I tried to give it a chance but there was no way I can pass it, it was too slippery.
I returned to the car and drove towards Peyto lake. I already saw it the day before but couldn't give up the opportunity to see it again … So I did the same (short) trail again, watching my steps, trying to put my feet on snow rather than ice. Eventually the view was not too different than the previous day.
Kept driving north when all the time the road is surrounded by huge tall mountains, some with snow on top, some with trees, some are rounded, while some are edgy. The lakes are like inlaid pearls in the necklace of the Rockies, because it's easy to frame them into a picture, which is very hard to do with a road that goes on for a few hours … so in order to enjoy the full experience you have to be here ! I stopped in Waterfowl lakes which are very close to the road and did a short hike, when after that I visited Mistaya canyon.
My next stop on the road was the "Icefield center" which is a place that offers two icefield related attractions: walking on a hanged bridge over a glacier and a ride with a special big-wheel vehicle that can go on ice. I arrived the center late afternoon so didn't have time to do both attractions. I chose to do the "Glacial skywalk" now, knowing that in a few days when I come back I'll do the other one. I must admit I was a bit disappointed … You don't get access to picture the bridge from underneath like it's seen in some of the pictures and the walk is nice but not sure it was worth the 30 CAD it cost. Anyway, while I was waiting for the bus to leave I had like 20 minutes so I went to see the glacier. There was strong wind and annoying rain which kind of ruined the experience but it was still amazing to see how the glacier shrunk in the last 2-3 decades.
I continued driving and stopping every now and then to enjoy the amazing scenery. Then I stopped at Sunwapta falls which are very nice. Tip: In most of these locations, soon after the parking lot there's a fork in the trail either for a short hike which provides a nice lookout or a longer hike which obviously provides more lookouts and stuff.
It was about 17:00 when I "finished" the Icefields parkway and reached Jasper where I'll spend 3 nights. I wrote "finished" since I didn't visit all the sites there, so "unfortunately" I'll have to stop on the way back 🙂 .